Although interesting at time, Jason Bourne will ultimately leave you feeling more disappointed than satisfied.
Picking up several years after the Ultimatum, Bourne (Matt Damon) is off the grid while just trying to survive. After Nicky Parsons (Julia Styles) finds out more information on the infamous Treadstone project, the case is reopened and Jason finds himself investigating more of his chequered past.
Paul Greengrass is definitely one of the more experienced directors when it comes to the classic action film. With a long resume of achievements, taking over the Bourne franchise for Supremacy and Ultimatum was easily one of his better moves. Clearly knowledgeable about both the character and structure of the story, Greengrass took a great film and turned it into a great trilogy. Now, after endless amounts of negotiation and a big push from fans, Bourne is back – it’s just a shame it doesn’t quite live up to expectation.
Before getting on the issues surrounding the latest installment, it’s worth mentioning some of the positives. As a film goes, all the necessary parts are in the right places. From the point the initial credits role, the audience is dropped right back into things with a quick introduction that grows into a well paced plot. This is really when the experience of Greengrass begins to shine as he manages to recreate the tone perfectly even after such a long hiatus. Above all, you really get the feeling that Bourne is back and nothing is going to stop him.
Even though we are introduced quickly to the plot, it’s unfortunately here where the issues begin to show. Firstly, the story is a lot weaker than the others. The trilogy is a shining example of a succinct set of films that manages to finish as well as tie up most loose ends. It’s this skill however that hurts this installment the most as it doesn’t so much continue the story as it feels tagged on. This issue is then made worse as many of the set pieces, while interesting to watch, never reach the heights of series most memorable moments. Is there a car chase i hear you cry? Yes, but it comes nowhere near the mini scene – is there close combat? Yes, but it doesn’t beat having a ball point pen to hand. The result is not so much frustration as it is disappointment that you are just watching slightly lesser versions of scenes done so much better beforehand.
Secondly we have something that can go either way in a Greengrass production; the camerawork and editing. Giving the sense of realism to a production, the Bourne franchise is well known for its ‘on the ground’ approach to filming. Taking the audience and making them feel like they are part of the action not only puts you next to the hero but it adds a sense of realism. Unfortunately here, this approach is taken too far as many of the calmer, story driven scenes feel like they were filmed by an impatient crack addict rather than an experienced story teller. When you add this to the typically erratic editing, not only are both action and story scenes affected by weak writing but it leaves scenes feeling messy and unfocused.
Regardless of all its faults, seeing Matt Damon reprise the role once more is definitely one of the best aspects of the production. Still as brooding as the previous installments, Damon easily falls back into it, bringing the same level of intensity as before. The supporting cast are all passable in their roles but as mentioned above, the story gives them little to do other than become another wave of agents determined to take down Bourne.
Jason Bourne is the epitome of a sequel that the fans wanted but ultimately didn’t really need. Although it’s great to see Matt Damon reprise the role, the lack of story, while not damaging to the brand, does leave more to be desired. While the news and run up made me more excited than a kid at Christmas, Jason Bourne ultimately makes you hark back to the original trilogy than cry out for a continuing saga! 3 out of 5 stars.